The future skills you’re looking for are already here

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Nick Mackeson-Smith
Nick Mackeson-Smith
Chief Curiosity Officer, Founder and Director
March 8, 2022

Hiring can be exhausting...

It’s difficult enough to find the right talent for your organisation when you’re hiring; from thinking carefully about the right kind of skill sets you need, to the right kind of attitude you want to have within your team.

To add to this, the world we live in is changing so rapidly, and many of the skills we have aren't necessarily the ones we need for the future.

That’s where our young people come in.

Experience versus potential

It’s also hard as an employer to decide if you'll favour candidates with experience (which will often come with a much higher price tag), or potential (which will offer a path for developing experience within the role).

It’s easy to dismiss our young people as lacking experience, but it’s so painfully wrong to do so, that employers who do could be missing out on some amazing talent.

The truth is, Auckland’s rangatahi have experience in spades - in areas often described by the World Economic Forum and business schools around the world as "future skills." Adaptability, a growth mindset, curiosity, experimentation, entrepreneurialism, resilience, and digital fluency - the list goes on.

Our young people have grown up in a world where these things are the norm - not some abstract "future skill'' that many employers are desperate to find.

A natural ability to influence and engage

In just my network of connections, I know of two children under the age of 16 who have YouTube channels with hundreds of followers. I hear success stories of 16 and 17 year-old Instagram influencers who have more followers than my 20 years of work experience in large global organisations in multiple countries has got me on LinkedIn.

These connections are a meaningful sign of their ability to influence, and to reach others - highly prized skills in marketing, sales, or business development roles - or in professions like social work, teaching, or a career in the police force.

Our rangatahi have the skills you’re looking for

I've recently been considering upskilling myself in digital marketing strategy - and social media is a big part of that. For many businesses, maintaining a social media presence can be painful or time consuming - and many don't understand the impact that a good social media engagement approach can have on their brand, connection to customers, pathways to sales, or increasing their global reach.

I challenge you to find an 18 year old who hasn’t created a ‘reel’ or a ‘tweet’, or doesn't understand what ‘reach’, ‘engagement’ or ‘clickthrough rate’ is. How many of our businesses are currently lacking this basic and common skill? This is just one skill….there are many more.

A generation surrounded by disruption

The resilience and adaptability of our youth is also astounding. Never before has a generation faced so much disruption (aside from wartime) to their daily routine and things we take for granted.  They’ve adapted to not being able to learn in schools. They’ve adapted to building and maintaining relationships online. They’ve adapted to conducting exams online.

They’ve adapted to not being able to travel in order to gain life experience, and found new ways to do that while being stuck at home. They've also adapted in times of fewer readily available employment opportunities by creating their own businesses.

Our young people are used to setbacks. They are used to problem-solving. They are also very used to finding (or creating) their own intrinsic motivation to push on, when the environment around them can sometimes feel like it's conspiring against them.

The skills your organisation will need in order to remain relevant for the future are here already. They aren't some unobtainable, hard-to-find commodity. They are readily available in Auckland's rangatahi, and they’re here for you to harness if you choose.

Top Auckland businesses are leading the charge

It is heartening to see Auckland Unlimited’s Youth Employer Pledge partners thinking outside the square, with award-winning strategies for hiring young people.

For inspiration, check out Downer’s strategy for targeting young Māori in their recruitment and retention plans, and Citycare’s success with hiring local young people, including young Māori, Pasifika and women, in the communities in which they operate.

The question is - what will it take for you to increase your engagement with Auckland’s youth?

This article was originally written and published in support of Auckland Unlimited’s Youth Employer Pledge.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez 🇨🇦 on Unsplash

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March 8, 2022
March 8, 2022

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